Saturday 27 September 2008


Some people (including an orthopaedic surgeon) have suggested that acupuncture might be quite good to help reduce the swelling in my knee.

I was going to go somewhere that had been recommended to me, but I was feeling very impatient today as I couldn't find a decent knee support in Oxford, so I decided to go in to a Chinese health shop. You know the ones - slightly dodgy looking, often found in shopping centres, with questionable claims on the windows.

The only time I've seen inside them is when the likes of Watchdog have done stories about them conning people in to buying dodgy medicine after looking at their tongue.

First off, just like on Watchdog, I sat down with the "Doctor" and his translator. They then asked loads of questions about my knee, and I did my best to explain without using the words "synovial plica". They did ask how my bowels were - I reckon they ask everyone this - and I said they were fine. And of course I had to stick my tongue out and have my pulse taken.

It was then explained to me that I have three meridians flowing down my leg and that they were blocked which makes the chi monkey fall off my back. Or something like that. I was by that point just wishing they would get on with it and stick the bloomin' needles in my knee.

So they I was taken in to the treatment room and I lay down on the treatment bed with my trousers off. Once again I made a pants-related error, by not then covering myself up with the provided towel...

Then the doc comes in and brings out the needles. I think my eyes must have been as wide as dinner plates when he started sticking them in me. I think there were six in total. He stuck them in a little bit, then kinda tapped them in one movement with his whole hand. When he put the two in my knee, I was honestly crapping myself and I though he was going to go straight in to my patella ligament and I was going to then hit the roof. Actually it wasn't too bad. One of the needles in my calf felt quite uncomfortable - like he had put it in when the muscle was tense and when I tried to relax it felt weird.

So I lay there and looked at the acupuncture chart on the wall. Looking at the chart such as the eye and perineum. :S

After about 20min the needles were removed. The doc then gave me a massage with some menthol oil stuff. Although it felt like he was just randomly rubbing my knee, it did actually feel quite good... that is until he did some kind of slapping thing on my kneecap that I did not like much.

Of course, I knew that they would eventually "recommend" that I buy lots of Chinese medicine and sign up for loads more acupuncture sessions. They wanted me to sign up for 10 sessions for which I would get 3 free. Hmmm... perhaps they could not detect the Scottish accent. They also wanted me to buy the oil and two boxes of medicine stuff. I agreed to sign up for 3 more sessions - I do appreciate that if it is going to have any effect it will not happen in one go - and I bought the oil stuff. They did their best to get me to buy the medicine but I did refuse on that one. I willing to accept that Chinese medicine could have some efficacy in certain conditions, but for a gammy knee I'll stick to Glucosamine and cod liver oil for the time being.

So how does it feel now? Well it actually felt quite good afterwards. It's always a good sign when my right knee bothers me more than my left. However, it's impossible to tell if the improvement is because of the acupuncture or the random rubbing afterwards.

I now stink of menthol, but I go back on Tuesday for more...

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Knee: Better then worse

Two days ago my knee felt great. Really strong and I could almost walk normally.

Then that evening I had to ride the motorbike up to Birmingham to get a new exhaust. I don't think the riding bothered my knee, but when I was up there I had to try and get on my knees to fit the new exhaust. I also kinda jarred it when I was sitting on the bike eating fish n' chips.

So now it is sore again like last week, which is especially annoying as the day before was the first time it had felt strong in ages. I have, however, managed to add about 2cm to the circumference of my thigh so I am managing to rebuild the atrophied muscle. Hopefully that should help!

Fraser - last week my knee was weaker than it was straight after the surgery - I couldn't do the exercises that I could do then. Now, my knee is definitely worse than before the surgery judging by its current state.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Knee progress - getting worse

I had another physio appointment tonight. My physio is quite amazed about how much muscle I have lost in my thigh. She thinks I may be stuck in a vicious circle where my knee is so swollen it is causing the muscle to atrophy and because my thigh muscle is weak my knee cap is out of position, which causes more knee swelling.

My knee feels so odd. I have no feedback - it feels like it could snap backwards at any time. When I do squats, I can feel the muscle in my right leg tensing, but in my left leg in the same place it just feels like jelly.

So I now have to start from scratch and treat my knee as if I have just had the surgery (it was about 3 months ago now). My main aim is to try and build up the thigh muscle again (inner thigh muscle - can't remember the name). I have to do exercises every hour and try to ice it three times a day.

I was unable to do exercises tonight that I was able to do in my first physio appointment after the surgery - so I am weaker than I was after the surgery.

I have been to the gym a couple of times this week, but I am going to start going every day (if I can get a lift!).

So I did actually broach the question of my physio - "do you think I will walk properly again?" Answer - "I hope so!"

I do feel a bit guilty moaning about this once I have spent a few minutes on KneeGuru and you hear about the terrible knee injuries some people have.

Must work on my positive mental attitude!

Sunday 14 September 2008

Pandora's box of knee problems

I had some knee surgery a couple of months ago to try and sort some pain I had when I stressed the joint after a long walk or if jogging.

Unfortunately the recovery has not been smooth.

A few weeks ago I went to see my Consultant for my post-operative follow-up consultation. By that point I had had some physiotherapy, had a full range of motion in my knee again, and had done some light walking in South-West England. The knee was still a bit swollen though, and I did still get some twinges in it. Overall it didn't feel too bad, but I also didn't feel like anything had been "sorted".

I had thought the surgeon had found something in my knee in the operation, but in my conversation with him it became apparent that although he had done some stuff in there he hadn't really found anything that made him think, "Ah - there's the problem!"

He suggested I needed to try and stress the knee again to see if it was improved. However, I never got that far.

Almost the next day my knee started to hurt more. I was getting twinges in different parts of the knee and I started to limp again. It got pretty bad, so that it was sore to walk almost anywhere, so I made an appointment with the physio again.

While I was at the physio I mentioned that I had never had my leg length measured or my hips checked. All these things are linked so that should have been checked early on. Well, it would seem that my left (injured) leg is 2cm longer than my right. How have I managed to walk normally for 28 years? Not sure...

So here are the things that are apparently wrong with me. I'll start at the bottom and work my way up. Like the song says - it's all connected!

My feet - well I have a bit of a dodgy gait. That alone can cause a whole manner of knee problems, not to mention problems with the hips and back.

Knees - well first off I've had what I now think was unnecessary surgery, so my knee is still swollen. This means I don't have very good feedback and it feels weak and unstable. Something in there is more inflamed that before so I am getting shooting pains all over the place when I walk and the original problem with the patella ligament is almost certainly still there.

Also, I have a mal-tracking patella, which means my kneecap moves kind of funny, which can stress the knee too. Combined with the bad gait, this means lots of stress on the knees. Although my left knee is the big problem at the moment, before the operation I actually had more consistent pain in my right knee.

Thighs - well nothing permanent, but my left thigh muscle has atrophied quite badly. It's circumference near my knee is about 2-3cm less than the right leg.

Hips - not necessarily related to the knee problems - but I have very tight hips. Where this does cause problems is when I ride the motorbike - I can get some really bad pains in my right hip in particular, and I can't comfortably ride a bike with a wide tank. I'm thinking Moto Guzzi...

So if that makes me sound like an old arthritic 88 year old man, well, that is exactly how I feel. I can barely walk once around my business park at work without getting in pain, and I will tell you it is not just a little scary.

So what am I doing? I am still seeing the physio and I have exercises to try and build up my thigh muscle as well as stretch my hips. I have taping to adjust my patella when I am doing exercise. Next week I will go back to the gym and try to build up my legs.

I am applying ice to my knee once or twice a day and also taking the diclofenac (NSAID) that I was given after the op. I also went to Holland & Barret and bought Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Cod Liver Oil. I am also open to the idea of acupuncture and anything else that might remotely have a chance of helping.

I am trying to get an appointment with the podiatrist and will probably end up getting an orthotic.

It has only been like this for a few weeks, but at the moment it feels like a life time. I should never have had that surgery. I really thought the problem was some specific damage to the tendon, but it is now clear it is all biomechanical. The problem is working out what caused what...

I'm hoping the orthotics will be the biggest benefit. I really do feel like one leg is really long at the moment. Presuming one of my legs hasn't suddenly got longer or one of my hip joints collapsed, I'm not sure how I can have walked like this normally for so long. It's not that an unusual problem - David Beckham has it - Patrick Vieira has one leg 3cm longer than the other. I am not yet walking in circles!

At the moment I am just hoping I will be able to walk properly again. I also wonder if ski-ing will ever happen again. I'm kind of assuming that eventually I will get proper arthritis in that knee.

Meh - this sucks!

Monday 8 September 2008

Car Finance Vultures

I was intending on buying a car this weekend. However, I did not take the credit crunch in to account.

Last time I applied for a loan, when I was a student, I went to Cahoot and had the money in my account within a couple of days at around 6.5% if I remember correctly.

Now that I'm earning a decent wage I presumed getting a decent car loan would not be a problem, despite the global economic situation. Admittedly the advertised rates are a little higher - Sainsbury's seemed best at 7.7%.

They refused me! They then referred me to another company which offered a loan at 15%! I then tried my own bank - Alliance & Leicester - who offered me a loan at 18%!!

So then I tried filling in one of those car finance applications online at the Autotrader website. Big mistake.

Since then I have had a non-stop stream of phone calls and text messages to my landline and mobile. These finance companies are like a kettle of vultures, desperate to get me to take a loan. I have just started telling them that I have already bought a car and don't need the money any more. In fact, today I just stopped answering the phone.

I think I'll just buy new waterproofs for my motorbike instead!